Construction Workers Spot Something Strange Underground, But When They Realized What’s There, They Tried Hiding It From The World
What would you do if you were remodeling your house and came across a discovery that ultimately changed the course of history? We can bet that you’d be standing there with your mouth wide open. Well, that’s exactly what happened to builders who were working on a new housing development. As they broke through, trying to make more space for the home, they came across something so unbelievable they couldn’t believe their own eyes…
Our discovery begins with a bunch of builders that were working on a new housing project. Back in 1902, the workers were cutting cisterns for the housing project when something fell through the roof. The men were immediately confused and startled…
19. A Great Discovery
The men quickly gathered together to take a look at what had collapsed through the roof. They were shocked when they came across what looked to be an ancient temple. It was a shocking discovery and they quickly told the housing project manager.
18. Keeping Quiet
It was obvious that whatever the men had discovered was historic. However, the house project decided to deny the discovery so that they could continue to do work on the area. This suppression of the discovery, however, wouldn’t last long.
Soon enough, reports were made about the discovery and the housing project could no longer deny it. In 1903, under the direction of Father Emanuel Magri, the area was to be excavated. What they found out about the discover would blow everyone’s minds!
16. The Hypogeum
It seems that what the workers had managed to uncover was actually the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni. The Hypogeum is a subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni phase (3300-3000 BC) in Maltese prehistory, located in Paola, Malta. What they found inside of the underground temple was incredible…
According to World Archaeology, the entire Hypogeum “was dug during prehistoric times on three subterranean levels, carved from the soft limestone rock using tools of stone and bone.” The structure also contains quite a large number of labyrinthine corridors and caves. All of it constructed with incredible accuracy.
14. Many Remains
While digging through the structure, archaeologists also managed to find the remains of more than 7,000 individuals. Throughout history, this is the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world. This makes the discovery even more notable!
13. Passing Away
The excavations of the Hypogeum continued to go on under the supervision of Father Manuel Magri of the Society of Jesus. He continued it through the support of the Museums Committee, however, in 1907 Magri unfortunately passed away. This posed a serious problem…
12. Field Notes
Father Magri had been in charge of the excavations the entire time and it was a hard blow when he passed away just a few years later. Any field notes that he had with him had disappeared along with him. However, the archaeologists on the project continued to excavate in the name of historical findings!
11. Taking Over
Excavations were resumed under Sir Themistocles Zammit. From 1907 to 1911, Zammit undertook the project and the published public report of the findings were all from his notes while on the field. His findings went into great detail about everything discovered at the Hypogeum.
With all of the fascinating information available on the Hypogeum, people immediately began to grow curious about the site. In fact, many people wanted to head over to Malta so that they could view the subterranean sanctuary for themselves. So in 1908, the site was opened to the public.
9. Life & Death Rituals
One of the most fascinating discoveries about the Hypogeum is that it gives us insight into how the ancient people of Malta honored their dead. It seems that the sanctuary was originally built for the purpose of being a burial chamber. This was their way of ritualizing both life and death.
8. No Uniform Practice
However, another interesting aspect is that there didn’t seem to be a uniform burial tradition that was practiced by the people. Instead, many of the bones were just heaped together in a pile. Still, this did give Zammit a few clues.
7. Neolithic Practice
After looking through the bones and seeing how they were arranged, Zammit came to the following conclusion. He believed that the heaping together of the bones was a part of a Neolithic burial custom. In this custom, the soft tissue is removed and the bones are deposited together in a type of ossuary.
6. Funeral Processions
According to Smithsonian Magazine, “The Hypogeum’s oldest and uppermost level consists of a passageway, access to a cistern below, a courtyard-like space dug into the promontory and five low-roofed burial chambers carved out of pre-existing caves. Archaeologists believe this is where funerary processions likely began.”
5. Great Insights
What makes this discovery even more unique is that it also gives archaeologists the opportunity to imagine what many of the prehistoric above-ground temples in Malta might have looked like. “Several chambers are still decorated with black and white checkerboards and red ochre spirals and honey-combs, the only prehistoric paintings found on the island,” Smithsonian Magazine reported.
4. A Chance
“[It] gives us a chance to see what [the Hypogeum’s] contemporary temple structures might have looked like on the inside,” says Heritage Malta curator Maria Elena Zammit. “The Hypogeum is completely underground, completely closed, so it’s humid.” It is thanks to that humidity that it has survived for so long!
3. Helpful Humidity
That moisture “keeps the salt in the stone soluble, preventing flaking. In other [temples throughout Malta], the surface is dissolving in places… [The Hypogeum] is held together by humidity,” Zammit explained. It is thanks to Heritage Malta that visitors are even allowed to go inside…
2. Keeping It Open
Visitors may not have been allowed in at all without Heritage Malta’s control over the Hypogeum. Just the small act of touching something in the temple can leave behind oils that can break the limestone apart. Even an increase in CO2 levels can alter the presence of the structure.
1. Wonderful Find
The Hypogeum has been quite a helpful discovery into understanding the Neolithic period as it occurred in Malta. The sanctuary is helpful to archaeologists, historians, and every day people who are fascinated by the our ancient ancestors!